Sophomore Season at #HugeEug (Eugene Half recap)

I’m on the plane home from Eugene (…at the time – it’s now almost two days later. I’m at home on the couch if you want to know), the first moments I’ve really had to digest what happened this weekend. Vacation running with so many friends is an absolute blast – I LOVED sharing HugeEug with all of them – but all the activities and socializing left for little time to personally reflect on my own race.

Which is a cool problem to have, but I’m grateful to finally have had some quiet time to sit down and uninterruptedly hash it all out. Every split, every gut feeling, every overcome negative thought. It was easily my best race EVER and deserves some selfish time in the forefront. At least to me.

(and you, bc you’re here and obvs I’m going to word vomit every detail for you)

Here we go – The Half PR Tale, aka HugeEug Part II

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Oiselle, Nuun, and general Internet friends making race weekend FUCKING AWESOME since 2013 (jocelyn’s pic)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1:38.

That was my original time goal when I began training for the Eugene Half. And this is the first time I’m publicly admitting it.

Half-way through my 12 week cycle things started falling apart – I wasn’t seeing the gains I wanted and my paces were no where near what McMillan prescribes for that goal time. I gutted out the rest of training but rescinded to the fact Eugene wouldn’t be that “Run To The Absolute Best of Your Ability” race I wanted.

So when race week came I adjusted my goals and said all I wanted was to run to my best ability on THAT day. To cross the finish feeling I gave it all I had. If I could run strong mentally and overcome the mid-race self-doubt and unwillingness to hang out in the pain place that’s plagued me before, I’d be one step closer to getting to that 1:3x territory someday down the road.

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Bum Wrap & Pros solidified as official OUaL race uniform

I settled into the corral between the 1:40-1:45 pace groups and listened to words by Steph Rothstein-Bruce and Craig Leon, two top US finishers at Boston this year. As the national anthem played I felt the perfect mix of nervous energy and calm confidence, and knew it could be a great day if I kept that balance and didn’t get in my own damn way.

The gun went off, “Sweet Caroline” poured through the speakers, and we crossed the start.

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emily’s pic

I kept my eyes off my watch at the start, trying to run on feel until we leveled out and I could lock in to something. I really didn’t want Garmin dictating my run, but running without my usual constant monitoring terrified me that I’d either run a) way too fast and crash and burn or b) too leisurely and have too much in the tank at the end.

7:32, 7:26

The next few miles were a blur of trying to find that perfect “uncomfortably manageable” pace. My breath was controlled but my legs were already feeling the work of the hills and long slight incline. I tried not to let the idea of burning for 10 more miles scare me into slowing down.

eugeleveation

Focusing on rhythm and feel instead of numbers worked shockingly (?) well. Each split beeped right around PR pace (7:45), and the consistency I was running at without watch-stalking was super satisfying. Like I finally just let my legs do their thing instead of robotically forcing it, and they performed way above expectation. Crazy.

7:40, 7:43, 7:43, 7:34, 7:44, 7:42

At mile 8 “The Hill” came into sight. I took water from the station (volunteers were stellar, btw) and got ready to put my head down and just go.

But then I heard a yell for my name, and déjà vu to Nuun Kim last year, SkinnyRunner’s mom was there yelling her face off, and then Mason was running next to me telling me to pick up my knees and asking if I’d been hydrating (obviously).

Hearing updates on my friends (he was on super pacer duties for like 10 people) gave me a boost, just in time for the Oiselle cheer force at mile 9. Cowbells, chicken hats, and banana suits are a great distraction from the fact we were running away from the finish line, btw.

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Abby, Lauren, BeckyJJ, Meghan, KMet, Sweaty

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sweaty’s caption : “see, she DOES love running!’

As we ran out towards the river the feeling in my legs turned from “working hard, muscles!” to “rapidly filling with lead, don’t want to move!” I worried I’d blown it by going out too fast and feared the looming wall that was surely just around the corner.

The thought of backing off to keep the pain at a distance crept in – without an actual goal time it seemed so tempting to turn away from it…

“will you look back at this point and regret it? when you write your recap do you want to admit to everyone you gave in?!”

I thought about the 10 miles of hard work I’d be throwing away, how I said I was going to give EVERYTHING, how the beer would taste better if I kept pushing, and committed to the rest of the race.

Still avoiding Garmin, I focused on just letting the effort feel a little bit harder – I knew I had to keep control a few more miles before really getting into the pain place.

7:49, 7:48, 7:54

“Strong and smooth. Strong and smooth.”

When two miles to go hit, I didn’t care about anything other than gassing out what was left. We were running the gorgeous tree-covered river path and the weather was perfect. There were enough people around to chase but not too many to feel cramped. I let my breath shorten and focused on lifting my knees and pushing off.

“Strong and smooth.”

It hurt. I didn’t think I could hold it. I thought again about giving in, and that for sure I was either going to puke or shit my bum wrap.

7:46

But we hit the bridge with one mile to go – crossing the water back towards campus in a very poignant “homestretch” way. I burned holes in the shirt backs in front of me, desperately trying not to let them pull away. We turned past our shakeout run spot, onto Agate, and up the cruel final hill, the sounds of the crowds at the top pulling me up.

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Thanks, KMet… (photo cred Oiselle)

We crested and the Oiselles were there – their excitement cuing my first proud/happy feelings (expression attempt in above photo gets a B for effort). My legs were completely shot and I felt like I was barely moving. The final 1/2 mile to Hayward felt like a fucking eternity and I don’t think I’ve ever been passed by more people at the end of a race, but there was just nothing left to kick with.

7:41, :42s (7:30 avg)

Finally we turned into Hayward, the stands packed and the announcer calling out names, and all I could focus on was picking up my feet enough to not trip and face plant on the Tracktown USA oval where so many world-class athletes have been.

And nearly a minute faster than I ever have, I crossed a 13.1 finish line, with a “hand over heart for Boston.”

… and then collapsed into a volunteer and was put in a wheelchair. For like, a tiny amount of time. Just enough to stop the world from spinning and be able to say (/remember?) my name and where I’m from.

Which I guess validates the “finish on empty” goal?

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Eugene Half Marathon, 4.28.13   –   1:40.45 (*New PR)

Almost even more than the race and PR, I’m proud of myself for not letting that original 1:38 goal overshadow my accomplishment this weekend. I set out to run the very best race I was capable of that day, and that’s exactly what I freaking did.

BOOYAH.

More on race weekend (lots of friends to brag about), the magical city of Eugene, and shenanigans soon. All with stolen pictures since my phone went the way of that old PR – RIP to both of you.

Sarah OUaL

extra thanks to Pro for sponsoring me – is this what I’m supposed to say? disclosure and stuff? anyway BLG13 is good for 40% off and free s/h!

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59 thoughts on “Sophomore Season at #HugeEug (Eugene Half recap)

  1. Congrats on your PR and for leaving everything on the course! Sometimes I think that’s the hardest part. After hearing so much about this race the past few days I may need to check it out for next year!

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  2. Awesome job!!! I like the thought process that involves thinking how much better beer will taste if you push yourself harder!

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  3. Congrats! What an awesome job :-) And as a new runner, it’s nice to know that other, more experienced, runners also coach themselves in their head and feel like they’re going to die or give up. The experienced runners always make it look so easy so I thought at some point it was going to get easier – but every run/race is a battle!

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  4. Yeaaah! Congrats! Amazing time! Eugene is awesome, PR City! (I actually signed up after you and Emily spoke so highly of it!) It’s one of my favorite races now. :) I yelled hi to you at mile 16 (I think you were doing a recovery run or something) — thanks for pumping the runners up! :)

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      • Emily and I were on the same flight back. I told her the marathon should have a line that says “how did you hear about us?” — they should put you guys in a hotel for promoting the race so well with your enthusiasm! Or at least a round of drinks!

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  5. Love the way that you wrote this! So happy for you! Nothing is better than a well executed race and knowing that you broke through the part of your brain that told you to stop!

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  6. Congrats, your 1:40:45 is amazing! I’m hoping to hit 1:50 in Sept. lol I thought you were joking when you called it a Bum Wrap, so I had to look it up. No joke. I’m a huge PRO fan too, thanks for the code!

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  7. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Also, thanks for reminding me that I too own a Oiselle bum wrap and I love it…it got buried in the bottom of my drawer over the lonnnngggg colllddd winter. p.s. is that orange shirt Oiselle too? I’m loving it.

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  8. booooyyaaaa!!! great job!!! Plus HugeEug looks like it was an awesome weekend. Even had some FOMO watching your twitter feeds apart from I was running Big Sur which was insanely beautiful (and a wee bit hilly). Next year!

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  9. congrats, sarah. having your head in the game is a HUGE accomplishment. and thanks for linking to #handsoverhearts. i just got all teary eyed looking at pictures of strangers crossing finish lines …

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  10. wonderful recap! reading your eugene recap from last year was what sold me on signing up in december and running it this year. also, your course play by play for the full.. IS SO ACCURATE! congrats on running such an incredible race and not giving in! again, so good to meet you and hope to run a race with you soon! i know this year, the work you have been putting in, and your great attitude when it comes to racing has great things for you!!

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  11. I love all of these cute, adorable pictures of you. Congrats on the PR and I’m soooooo happy that you didn’t psych yourself out. That 1:38 is in sight for sure!

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  12. Congrats on the PR!! Eugene has been on my race list for awhile but two years of reading these awesome race reports makes me think I need to make it happen. Sooner rather than later ;-)
    Looks like you all had so much fun.
    The bum wrap is so cute. Any issues with the shorts riding up?

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  13. Love the race report – both reading it and talking to you after the race makes me want to learn to gut it out. I totally haven’t learned that yet. You rock and congrats again on the PR!

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  14. AWESOME race!!! Way to keep strong and give it your all through those last few miles! You rock!! 1:40 is a freaking fast time Mrs. McSpeedy! :) Great race! :)

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  15. WAY TO GO SARAH!!!!! I have Eugene on my bucket list to come down and race in the future! It’s tough because our local, Vancouver Marathon is always the week after, and it’s so hard not to race in your hometown, especially when your hometown is as scenic as Vancouver!!

    Anyways, GREAT JOB! And kudo’s for not only admitting the original goal, but allowing yourself to feel success with your new PR, you rocked this race, and deserve to celebrate it!

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  16. “It was easily my best race EVER” <– THIS makes me SO SO happy. I knew you had a solid PR and you were happy with your race, but to hear you say that is THE BEST. I love that you were able to get to that pain place and push past it be so proud of your performance. No doubt that 1:38 will be yours very shortly. (O2O?!) Thanks for being supportive this weekend…I definitely appreciated the hugs and encouragement :)

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  17. booyah! awesome race!!! solid PR and, I mean, finishing needing a wheelchair is the ultimate. its better than throwing up. good job, lime. and thanks for the cheering at the finish. best race memory to date. i might have to retire now from the marathon bc not sure it will get any better.

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  18. Good on you for gutting it out and finishing with a strong PR! I ran the half, too. I, too, had that period during the race (around Mile 11) when I felt like giving up but, fortunately, stuck it out… and PR’d! Good times. Eugene is a fantastic race!

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  19. Dude, you had an amazing race!!! Congrats – I’m so happy for you! I’m also happy you didn’t crap your Bum Wrap (although I stand by our apparel’s ability to take some sh*t and keep going.) Thank you for being in the family…you are admired and respected by so many, me included!

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  20. Pingback: Where the Magic Came From | Once Upon a (L)ime

  21. congrats!! i was totally race stalking and was cheering you on from the ATL. love that you didn’t let the 1:38 overshadow your PR and love that you pushed yourself to the finish. also really glad you are okay!? what was wrong in the end? dehydration?

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